Some time ago we published the recipe for the world’s best Home Exchange. Now, thanks to Babara (food blogger and HomeExchanger) we are discovering the best recipe for perfect travel!
I have two big passions: food & travel.
The great thing about them is that you can combine the two, so I will use them together today to offer you my best recipe for perfect travel.
I never meant for my two passions to “walk” side by side. They were just things I really liked in my life. Only lately have I discovered that they are complementary. At least that’s the way I look at them.
Food has always been part of who I am. Being Italian, I find it easy. We love food. It’s like a cult for us. In my family, we have recipes my grandmother got from her mother, recipes that I still cook and look forward to passing on to my children and grandchildren. It is not unusual for me to call my mother (or my father, as he is also an excellent cook!) to ask how grandma used to prepare particular dish.
I always used to laugh when, having just finished dinner, my parents would look at each other ask “So! What are we going to prepare at lunch tomorrow?” I know, it’s hilarious, but that’s just the way we are! For me food is culture, it is tradition and it brings me back to my roots, keeping my bond with them very strong.
So what did I do? I started a food blog.
Then there’s the other passion, which is no less strong: I love to travel. One can think about travel in many ways, but for me it is a great means of getting in touch with local culture. And, as I wrote before, I consider food to be one of the best lenses through which to start understanding a culture. So I can easily combine them both!
Planning Is Essential
When choosing where to travel, take your time. Learn about different places online; read about them in books. (I know, I am old fashioned, but I really enjoy looking at books about the places I have visited. They remind me of them.) In this phase, I think about the kinds of dishes I will eat in a particular country and if this makes my mouth water, that’s a big plus!
This is often THE most critical ingredient. You can’t plan to visit Polynesia if you can’t afford it. So plan according to your budget. You will have a much better experience if you aren’t thinking about money all the time. Consider visiting a place nearby and living it more fully instead of flying to the other side of the world and feeling miserable because you can’t afford to see and experience everything you would like.
I started exchanging my home seven years ago and I couldn’t be happier! I have been able to live like a local in the places I visited. I enjoyed London like a proper Londoner, confused myself among Californians, and bought my daily baguette like a Provençal in the south of France.
These experiences have enriched me beyond my imagination. Thanks to HomeExchange I have also figured out the second point of my recipe: the budget! I have saved a lot of money by not paying for accommodation around the world. It means that I can actually travel much more often.
Pick Your Travel Companions Carefully
Think more than twice about the person or people with whom you will travel. Traveling is an intense experience that can lead to friction and arguments. Be sure that you really want to travel with someone you don’t fully know and understand. At this point in my life, my travel companions are my husband and my son. I couldn’t be happier with the choice!
Be sure to daydream about your travel. A lot. For me, this is a very important part of the preparation. It’s where the journey really starts. Imagine how it would be to visit a certain place; feel the emotions in your mind. It allows to me to “see” places with different eyes and sensibilities.
When you travel, you will face setbacks, especially if you travel frequently. You may miss a plane, argue with your travel companion(s), be disappointed that a place does not meet expectations and so on. So be optimistic, smile as much as possible and don’t let little things ruin your trip. Remember: you planned it for a very long time. You may never have another chance to go back again. You invested a lot, financially and emotionally, so take it easy and enjoy.
Last but Not Least
Avoid going to a French restaurant if you are French or an Italian restaurant if you are Italian! This can be a very disappointing experience and most of the times you will waste your money.
What other ingredients would you add?
Barbara is a foodie blogger. Read and try her delicious recipes at CucinadiBarbara.com (in Italian) and check out her beautiful flat in Prato, Tuscany – 20 min away from Florence. “You will love the food here!” she says!